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Energy price rises push green agenda

In response to the current energy crisis, heating industry commentators have called for an accelerated push for zero carbon technologies to make buildings more energy efficient.

Wholesale gas prices are said to have increased by up to 250 per cent since January and many home owners and businesses are facing higher energy bills this winter.

Mike Foster, chief executive of the Energy and Utilities Alliance, said: “The current energy crisis around gas supply and demand was entirely avoidable but that doesn’t help solve the problem now. In the short term, the tools available to help are limited and expensive but may be necessary to keep fuel poverty levels in check; to keep the lights on whilst still keeping an eye on our emissions.

“In the longer term much more can be done and should be. This crisis should act as a wake-up call to get on with improving the energy efficiency of buildings; of ramping up of zero carbon power generation, that’s nuclear, wind as well as gas with CCS; but most of all seizing the opportunity to massively invest in hydrogen production, so we are no longer dependent of geology for our energy.

“Above all, this crisis should put pay to the notion that we should electrify all domestic heating in the UK. We simply cannot load high seasonal heating demand onto a system that cannot cope. It would be reckless and irresponsible to do so.”

Kevin Wellman, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) said: “Fuel and water poverty is a growing problem in the UK. According to government statistics approximately 3.66 million households are fuel poor and around 3 million households are unable to pay water bills. Lone parents with dependents make up nearly 19%, with fuel poverty the highest in the private rented sector.

“Through our latest manifesto we have been urging Government to bring in policies to target the energy efficiency of dwellings - especially those in band D and under - and tackle the issues associated with poverty at source. Those on low incomes should pay fair and competitive tariffs for energy use.

“Furthermore, the current situation highlights the issues around existing and new housing stock. It’s fundamental to the net zero agenda that every building is as energy efficient as possible and that our engineers have the right knowledge and skills to install energy efficient appliances. As gas prices increase, it makes a more compelling case for alternative technologies such as heat pumps. The CIPHE in partnership with manufacturers and industry organisations will shortly be launching a low temperature design qualification. The uncertainty around gas supplies and prices shows why we can’t delay in upskilling the industry - change has to happen now.”

Meanwhile Russell Dean, head of residential heating and ventilation at Mitsubishi Electric, said: “As wholesale gas prices continue to surge, and with homeowners already facing a rising price cap on energy bills next month, now is the time to look towards an alternative solution for heating our homes.

The volatility of fossil fuels is just one of the many reasons why homeowners should be looking at viable, alternative renewable energy sources to heat their homes.

Heat pump technology is readily available option for many homes in the UK, and is well positioned to offer a more renewable, lower-carbon alternative to both gas and oil.

our housing stock is important to achieve our net zero goals, and heat pumps can play an important role in helping the UK to become less reliant on fossil fuel heating - and avoid the soaring costs that homeowners are being burdened with as a result, affecting many people with fuel poverty.

With more than a million households in the UK set to be affected by energy firms collapsing, and gas prices likely to continue to be volatile and unstable for some time, making the switch towards renewable heating has never been more timely.”

22 September 2021

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